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Advances in Technology - Electric Power

Autor:   •  March 16, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,861 Words (8 Pages)  •  1,847 Views

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Life in the Industrial Age

Section 1: Advances in Technology


By the late 1800s scientists began to find alternatives to water, coal, and stream. These sources had powered industry but they did not work very efficiently. Electric power changed things more than any other invention. It started in 1831 when the English chemist Michael Faraday found a practical use for electric power. He created the dynamo, a machine that generated electricity by moving a magnet through a copper coil. Faraday used the electricity from the dynamo to invent the first electric motor.

In 1879, Thomas Edison developed the first light bulb that had a practical use. Later, he and his team made generators, motors, light sockets, and other electrical devices. Edison also worked to bring electricity to several city blocks when he created the world's first permanent central power plant in New York. Electricity allowed factories to stop depending on large steam engines and the water sources that powered them. This gave factory owners the freedom to locate their factories in other places. No longer relying on sunlight, workers could work later, producing more goods. Electricity also allowed people to light their homes more safely than with the gas or oil lamps they had used earlier.


Advances in transportation made it possible to move people and goods more quickly and at less cost. The railroad system expanded when the Bessemer process, invented by William Kelly and Henry Bessemer, made steel much stronger by burning out impurities. The Bessemer process also cut the cost of making steel. Factories began to make more locomotives and railroad tracks. Steel also was used to make the bridges the trains would cross. By 1840, there were 3,000 miles of railroad tracks in the eastern U.S. Just 20 years later, 30,000 miles of tracks connected the country's major cities. With this advancement came greater choice in food and other items, as they could be shipped farther distances from their origin.

People began thinking about other forms of transportation in addition to trains. Instead of sailing ships that depended no wind, ocean vessels were now powered by steam. The first practical car was built in Germany when Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz put an internal combustion engine on a horse carriage. Americans followed with their own automobiles. Henry Ford, however, was responsible for making cars so popular. He built the Model T using the assembly line, which made the car affordable for many Americans to purchase. Free to travel anywhere at any time, roads soon covered more miles than rail lines. Brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright turned their attentions to the sky. They studied aerodynamics, or


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